Meanwhile, one Ocean and Continent Away, on a Quiet Street in Burnaby

Ten o'five. Sunny. Watering restrictions in effect. It's an even-numbered day, and all this even-numbered side of the street have appeared to water the lawns, and pretend not to notice each other. I'm watering the clematis. Hold...

Adjusting my ear bud. Go. Not a thing odd about an old lady talking along with her ipod...which this isn't. Not odd, at all, at all, at all. Seems everybody's talking to herself in public places these days.

Familiar Man, and compact white dog pulling him along the sidewalk under the maples. Regulars. Snowy, the dog. In neighbourliness, I'd asked the nice man once. Strangers are forever exchanging the names of their pets.

Across the street now, hunched over like a pack mule, a saddlebag full on each of his hips, the Canada Postie hikes the yellow lawns along the fronts of neat houses. It's an even-numbered day, so no one seems home along all that odd-numbered side of the street.

Mister Postie swings up the walk of 27609, tramps up the porch, stoops at the mailslot by the door, and a postcard, Mediterranean blue, in hand. The blinds shift in the bay window...

The clematis will have to wait...

Indoors, now. Ten years on this street across from 27609 has perfected my relaxed and natural seeming performances. My appearances on the street coinciding with his. My exits, as well. As I settle in my comfy armchair before the flickering monitors in the darkened basement, already the bugs in place inside 27609 are recording notable activity.

"Nooo, my dear — Nooo!"

Mediterranean blue postcard in hand, 27609 is pacing, I see. He hasn't proper pacing space, the silly old man, because he has piled the place deep in books. He has built up the coffee table skyhigh, like Manhattan Island. A teevee I'd glimpsed once sleeps under a mountain risen in half the living room. Books lie open upon reading tables made of books mounded over the floor. 27609 very nearly is spinning in place, rushing the two to three paces he can, each way, between the stacks and the dining table by the curtained window. He has kept clear one corner of the otherwise wild island for an open notebook computer. And set a spindly chair before it.

At last! 27609 has settled, safe in that chair. He is composing an email, I see via the data intercept.

Dear Favourite Niece.

Subject: Italy.

How are you? I am fine. Summer is...

He is quite some time at it...

Dearest Niece.

Subject: Caution.

Pompeii and Herculaneum must have been thrilling. Did you see all the dead?...


My Dear Niece.

Subject: Postcard.

Re your Neapolitan souvenir: the little bronze gladiator. You have NAMED it?

Acts of making a thing, then naming the thing, imbue said thing with cumulative potential. You do remember? You yourself remarked so re the pertinent passage in the Rubashevskiy grimoire, which perhaps unwisely I permitted you to leaf through last Christmas, prior to recent strained relations with your dear Mama. I trust she is well, and hope she wore a hat, for I recall she burns so every summer.

Digging, refining, blending, and smelting the ores introduced the first potential. The foundry forming the bronze man was second. And now you have named the little man.

Although he is but two inches tall, I advise against displaying him where you customarily would, in the company of your favourite toys upon tabletops and windowsills. Should he awake in the open, he will be much more difficult to find. Instead, lock him inside a stout box. Bury him in a drawer. Take precautions. I will brave the ire of your Mama and visit. We will deal with him then as best we might.


Your Uncle

The End

50 comments about this story Feed